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United States v. Hutchins

72 M.J. 294 (2013)

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United States v. Hutchins

United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces

72 M.J. 294 (2013)

Facts

Sergeant Lawrence Hutchins (defendant), a squad leader in Iraq, conspired with his squad to capture and kill a person believed to be a leader of the insurgency. After squad members abducted their victim, Hutchins fired his rifle multiple times into the victim’s face. The squad then staged the scene as if the victim had been digging holes for improvised explosive devices. A local sheikh brought the victim’s death to Hutchins’s battalion commander’s attention, and Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) launched an investigation. Hutchins and other squad members initially lied that they shot the victim during a legitimate ambush. After issuing Miranda warnings, Hutchins invoked his right to an attorney, and NCIS ended the interrogation. Hutchins was then confined to a trailer, where he had no contact with anyone besides NCIS officials and a chaplain. After a week, an investigator entered Hutchins’s trailer to request permission to search Hutchins’s personal property. Hutchins agreed, signing a consent form that noted he was still under investigation for murder, assault, and kidnapping. While reviewing the consent form, Hutchins asked whether he could still provide his side of the story. The investigator said yes, but not that night. The next morning, Hutchins was brought to NCIS, where he was Mirandized again. Hutchins waived his rights and provided a detailed written confession. Hutchins was convicted of making a false official statement, unpremeditated murder, larceny, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy offenses. On appeal, Hutchins challenged his confession as a violation of his Fifth Amendment rights.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Erdmann, J.)

Concurrence (Ryan, J.)

Dissent (Baker, C.J.)

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